Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 06/26/09 16:44:46

"What the inside of a Red Bull can must look like."
1 stars (Sucks)

Welcome to Michael Bay’s world. A world of awesome explosions and slo-mo walking and smokin’ hot babes and bucktoothed stereotypes and terrible comic relief and a neverending supply of cocaine, snortable right off a stripper’s ass, no charge. A world void of story, character development, and logic. A world where Linkin Park songs play all the time. A world where everything looks like a totally bitchin’ commercial for the National Guard. A world where the semi-literate D-student reigns supreme.

It’s his world. We’re just guests, desperately looking for the way out.

I gave “Transformers” a positive review two summers ago, but for the life of me, I can’t remember why; all I remember now is a lot terrible music, incoherent fight scenes, and some gawdawful shtick with the Autobots trying to hide in someone’s backyard.

Now comes “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” and whatever awesometastic partytime vibe I must’ve felt was there in the first film is painfully absent here. Bay and screenwriters Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman have slathered their film with such unrelenting excess that there’s no time to enjoy anything. There are two modes here: loud and louder, and there’s not so much a story with proper build-up and payoff as there is a random series of action scenes that just sort of end. All that endless excitement, it’s just so boring - there’s no sense of anticipation, no tension, no downtime. It’s on all the time, like being stuck on a bus with a screaming baby. The movie, all 150 goddamn minutes of it, is an audio-visual assault that mimics storytelling without understanding it. It’s a wad of chaos puked onto the big screen, an arbitrary collection of explosions and machismo posturing and frat boy assholery. It’s “8-Ball: The Movie.”

Oh, and it’s all, you know, for the kids. Bay has stated he considers “Revenge of the Fallen” a children’s movie, which is a sad thing for a grown man to say, revealing a complete lack of understanding of what comprises children’s entertainment. Here is a movie, “for kids,” that consists almost entirely of gunfire, warfare, bloodshed, murder, sex, racism, pot humor, testicle jokes, and dogs humping. It’s enough to make me apologize to Will Ferrell for complaining about the phrase “zombie dick” in “Land of the Lost.”

To understand what Bay thinks constitutes something “for kids,” let’s compare his film to the “junior novelization,” available in fine bookstores now. In the book, written, one assumes, by someone who knows what’s appropriate for kids, a key scene between our human hero Sam and a young seductress involves some nervous dialogue and an attempted kiss. In Bay’s film, meanwhile, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is stalked by a college coed who, like all women in Bay’s world, comes with slutty porn star looks, a heaving chest, and a skirt short enough to reveal the majesties of the women’s undergarment industry, upon which the camera lingers lustily; she hunts him down like a sex addict, repeatedly tossing herself upon him, hoping to rape him while thrusting away. You know, for kids!

As for Megan Fox, who reprises her role as Sam’s girlfriend Mikaela, there’s not a single shot of her that’s not smothered in some sort of dirty old man leering. Legend has it that Bay’s only direction to her was to “look hot,” which she accomplishes by bending over a lot and speaking in a vapid monotone. She’s supposed to serve as a role model for girls, I think, what with her character being a tomboyish gearhead and all - although it’s Bay’s world, where even tomboys are pipin’ hot bimbos. (No dykes here, fellas!) Bay’s message to girls everywhere: try to like what guys like, but be a skeeze, too. Who needs brains when you’ve got pouty blow job lips? Right, ladies?

(Oh, and slutty chicks can turn into robots, too, because the movie patently refuses to make any sense.)

The story? Yup, that’s terrible, too. Sam’s heading off to college, you see, and the trusty Autobots and their human allies (a top-secret international unit that exists merely so Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson can reappear without asking the writers to think up a reasonable excuse) are busy hunting down the remaining hidden Decepticons. When Sam conveniently finds a shard of the Allspark, his brain is flash-loaded with ancient symbols related to the whereabouts of a deadly machine that will let the bad guys destroy our sun, for reasons too stupid to explain here. Megatron is hauled out of his deep sea tomb (where the government dumped him as part of their military strategy to set up the sequel) and revived, and he’s now in the service of the Fallen, “the first Decepticon,” a being so powerful and important that nobody bothered mentioning him last time.

What passes here for a plot has Sam get all spastic as the symbols overwhelm his brain; the Autobots engage in numerous fight sequences; Sam and his pals meet Agent Simmons (John Turturro), and they all go to Jordan, where the Egyptian pyramids are, because that’s what happens when you let the jackknobs who failed geography make a $200 million action movie.

It’s a seventy minute plot straight out of the cartoons, fair enough. But since Bay is driven to make the most over-the-top awesomeness ever, the whole thing gets padded out to an unholy two-and-a-half hours. And that leaves us with such dreadful filler as: a subplot arc where Sam and Mikaela are too nervous to say “I love you” to each other, until, of course, the finale, because that’s how they do it in Screenplay 101; and a scene where all of Sam’s kitchen gadgets spring to life; and a joke where Sam’s mom (Julie White), eats hash brownies and gets high without knowing it, because she’s apparently a moron; and a lengthy bit where our heroes find Jetfire, a Transformer so old and creaky and antiquated, he’s disguised as a stealth bomber from, like, the 1990s (dude! old!); and frequent comic interruptions from a pair of bucktoothed Amos & Andy-esque Autobots; and flashbacks to the dawn of man; and a strained Rainn Wilson cameo; and throwaway scenes where the buffoonish Secretary of Defense (John Benjamin Hickey) interferes with military success; and a frat party; and jokes about dog sex and robot testicles. If he only had another ten million more to spend, I’m sure Bay would’ve tossed in a musical number.

When not stalling on useless asides and cheap time wasters, the film crams itself with the simplest pile of clichéd dialogue and tiresome exposition (repeated again and again, for the benefit of the slower viewers), which in turn exists to set up the action sequences, which arrive on screen like clockwork. Fans may celebrate that the fight scenes are bigger and louder than those in the last movie, but that’s hardly a plus considering Bay’s knack for visual clutter. These Transformers are barely comprehensible on their own, each looking not like robots but a garbage heap of various curved chunks of metal, some with faces, some not (to help you keep track: the bad guys’ faces all look like giant metal anuses); toss them into a fight scene under Bay’s direction, and it’s just a mess of spare parts flying by one’s line of sight.

And, naturally, Bay has even less luck with the human side of things, his characters ranging from obnoxious to pointless. After watching “Revenge of the Fallen,” it’s apparent Bay’s dream movie would have no people in it at all (except for the occasional slut), and no story. It would be three hours of slo-mo explosion footage set to a booming soundtrack, interrupted only by the occasional Linkin Park video.

That’s Michael Bay’s world, people. Where’s the exit?

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